Forum: Trooper’s death stresses need to repeal cannabis law

The trooper’s death, caused by an impaired driver, should prompt lawmakers to reconsider its legalization.

By Bill Young / Herald Forum

On March 2, an American hero was taken from his wife and 2-year-old child. Washington State Trooper Chris Gadd was killed by a Lynnwood resident who admitted to drinking and smoking marijuana prior to mowing down the defenseless trooper along I-5 near Marysville about 3 a.m.

A child will be fatherless as a result the driver’s reported decision to drink acohol and use marijuana, which resulted in the death of a beloved law enforcement officer.

While you could arguably state that alcohol contributed to this horrific tragedy, I would assert that legalized pot was the deciding factor. We know that the marijuana that is being produced today is more potent than the pot grown in the 1970s and ’80s. This is not your daddy’s grass anymore; levels of THC are so potent that this shouldn’t even be considered the same drug from yesteryear.

Marijuana is not innocuous, and causes myriad physical and psychological maladies. Consequently, it is incredulous that lawmakers would have ever legalized marijuana for recreational use. Moreover, fatal traffic accidents demonstrate that up to 22 percent of these tragedies are caused by drivers under the influence of cannabis.

Health care professionals have found a litany of serious health problems associated with the regular use of cannabis, including heart problems, lung issues and fertility problems. In fact, it has been reported that the daily use of cannabis raises the risk of heart attacks by 25 percent and strokes by 42 percent.

The pot of a bygone era has given way to marijuana that can cause mental health issues, psychosis and violent behavior. If an individual has a predisposition toward mental health issues, smoking marijuana regularly will only exacerbate and enhance their mental illness.

Scientific research has definitely proven that prolonged use of pot can lead to paranoia, aggressive or violent behavior and delusions. It has also been widely known that cannabis damages the lungs and may adversely affect a man’s sperm count.

The most detrimental aspect of the legalization of marijuana is to our youth and young adults. As someone who had empirically observed the adverse effects of pot on our youth, it is absolutely insane that our state has legalized this insidious drug. After working in our schools and making literally hundreds of drug confiscations, I can attest that marijuana is extraordinarily harmful to our children.

It has the potential to destroy families, cause crime and absolutely decimate an individual’s motivation. Grades suffer, friendships die and the barriers that it places between children and parents can be incalculable. Drug users are far more likely to be suspended from school, go to jail and fail classes.

The term “recreational use” is oxymoronic and is absolutely counterintuitive to logic and common sense. If the legislators had worked with our children in the aftermath of a drug confiscation or uncovering a drug dealer as I have, they would know that drugs are an absolute scourge on our society.

We owe it to Trooper Gadd’s surviving family and all of our children that we must never normalize drug use. Let’s honor the memory and legacy of this heroic law enforcement officer by collectively teaching our children that any type of drug that alters your conscious state of mind is extremely dangerous.

Bill Young spent 20 years as a public school safety officer in Seattle. He lives in Lake Stevens.

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